Y2K celebration breaks down denominational walls

Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 1, 2000

There were millions of people celebrating the turn of the millennium at parties, bars and homes of relatives and friends. But, for many local residents the best place to spend the final moments of the 20th century and the first of the century was at church.

One group of local churches joined together so that their congregations could share in the experience of the countdown to the new millennium with others who share their values and beliefs during a Watch Night Service.

Saint Paul Baptist Church was the host of the event which brought the congregations of seven other churches together. Rev. Neemon Wright, the pastor at Saint Pauls, said the idea came about through discussions with other ministers in the area.

"We have all held New Year's Day services in the past, but we had always done it individually," Wright said. "All of the churches that participated had been talking about doing the same thing this year. After discussing it a while we decided it would make the evening more special to bring our churches together to worship during the last moments of the year."

The services were held at the church at 11 p.m. on New Year's Eve. There were singing, testimonies and a sermon presented by a minister from one of the churches involved in the event. Wright said that the speaker was one of the ministers from the participating churches.

Following the sermon, refreshments were served and those in attendance joined in a countdown to the New Year.

Wright said that he was very excited about the interest that people showed toward the event and that all the congregations were looking forward to being together that night.

"I believe that more people are interested in being at church this year than in the past. I have had many compliments about the event and many people were excited about the churches coming together to celebrate this special occasion," he said.

The topic of the program for the evening service was the same as Saint Paul's 1999 theme: "Being a Relevant Church in a New Millennium." Wright said he felt that theme was perfect for the celebration.

"We wanted people to think about what it will take to keep our churches important during the upcoming millennium," he said.

Wright said he was glad to see the church, located at 207 Bolling Street, full when the clock strikes midnight.

"We had a very large group for our Christmas service, which was held along with five other churches. Many of those people were excited about our Watch Night Service and planned to attend. Add to that a few more churches and guests and we had a good crowd to help us bring in the new millennium," Wright said.

The services also was open to other members of the community who would like to celebrate the coming of the new year by worshipping at church. Wright said one of the goals of these events is to break down denominational walls.

"We want to have guests from all the local churches," he said. "We try not to get caught up in denominational issues. So anyone who wants to join us for our Watch Night Service is more than welcome."

Another group of people that may have been attending services that night are those who were fearful from rumors and speculation surrounding what has become known as the Y2K bug.

"As more people became aware of it (Y2K) I think there were some who felt it may be better to be at church when the new millennium begins," he said.

Wright and the pastors of the other churches will agree that church was one of the best places to bring in a new millennium even though their reasoning has nothing to do with Y2K.

"It is the perfect time for everyone to get together and worship. It is important that we remember what is truly important as we begin a new millennium," he said.

The churches that are participating include: Saint Paul Baptist Church, Harrison Street Baptist Church, Harrison Street Christian Church,

Butler Chapel A.M.E. Zion Church, First Missionary Baptist Church, Pine Top Missionary Baptist Church, Pine Level Baptist Church and Kelly Temple Holiness Church.